A completion

“And in this I give advice:  It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.”  2 Cor. 8:10-11

In this verse, Paul was speaking to the church in Macedonia about generosity, but it got me wondering what I was desiring to begin a year ago.  Interestingly (and conveniently) enough, a year ago is when the Lord encouraged me to blog a Month of Prayer, so I was able to go back and read through my blogs from last year.  What exactly was I desiring?  Had I not recorded those prayers, I can honestly say I wouldn’t remember my desires from a year ago.

The Lord has been faithful this past year.  He has not only been answering prayer, but stretching and growing my family and me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.  Most of the prayers were things I will need over a lifetime:  to increase in prudence, depart from evil, know Him more, honor Him with my possessions, etc.

I also asked that contentions, gossip, and greed be kept far from me, and that I would be slow to anger.  Truly, the Lord has been faithful in those things; although, like everyone else, I am always a work in progress.  I prayed about my children’s desire to serve Him.  There is an excitement inside them when it comes to serving that warms my heart.  Now, to see them seek after Him as they would seek after treasure.  (that’s coming…)

The desires I had a year ago and things the Lord began when I prayed are not to be forgotten.  This verse in 2 Cor. reminds me that there is not just to be a beginning, but a time of completion.  It is good to take time to revisit and re-evaluate those old desires and monitor our own progress on the journey, as well.  Am I still seeking after the wisdom that I desired last year?  Am I still doing all I can to leave a legacy of integrity and godliness for my children and grandchildren?  Have I been teaching my children how to give when it’s in their power to do so, like I prayed I would?  Have I been trusting in God’s provision?

Do you know what you began or desired a year ago?  Is it time to complete it or to seek God’s guidance?  If the Lord has already completed something for you, or is in the process now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!!  If you have forgotten what you desired, I pray His Holy Spirit will bring it back to your remembrance.  We don’t want to make hollow commitments to the Lord or His work.

When it comes to remembering the things we pray (what we ask for or say to God), a written record can be a very helpful thing.  I will be posting about prayer journaling next.  If you’ve never tried it, or want to try something new, I encourage you to check it out.

Complete it,

jamie

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How can I save those I love?

Pr. 24:11:  “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.”

I have not been able to shake this verse since I read it yesterday.  My heart breaks when I think of people I know and love who are stumbling towards the slaughter.  Some are walking there willingly, and others are being deceived.  I want nothing more than to grab them in an embrace and lead them to the Lord.  But what can I really do?  I can’t make up people’s minds for them.  I cannot convince them with smooth words, or even stop them with my insistence.  How can I deliver them?   How can I hold them back?

The fact is, I can’t.  This is where I have to pray and trust that God will be able to get hold of them, to deliver them and hold them back.  Maybe God can use me in some way, but the truth of the matter is, it is between them and God.

Genesis 3:4 is where the serpent convinced Eve to sin against God.  “…in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Satan is still using this same tactic–telling us we will get something from the sin.

“You will know what it’s like to really feel loved.”  “You will finally have peace.”  “You will get what you’ve deserved for so long.”  “Your pain will finally go away.”  “No one will ever know.”

This is how he leads people to the slaughter.  His empty promises that are actually lies in disguise.  1 Timothy 4:2 tells us that our own consciences can become seared with a hot iron.  When that happens, we no longer view sin as sin.  It becomes a right to which we cling.  Our lives become about us, our wants, and our desires.  Our lives become about what we deserve…just as Eve ‘deserved’ to have her eyes open to know good and evil in just the same way that God did.

The truth is that it is God’s will for us on this earth is to tell people about His kingdom.  We can find this truth in His Word.  When the focus of our lives is only our own will, then we have departed from God.  God has and is all that we need, and more.  All the things satan promises, are things that only God provides.  Satan has wanted to be like God from the beginning, so he tries to promise what only God can give, but his path only leads to pain, destruction, and death.

Knowing this, my heart breaks that people I love are being led to the slaughter.  Oh, how I long to open their eyes!  God, please open their eyes.  Holy Spirit, please bring back to their remembrance the truth of Your Word.  Lead them away from death, and hold them back from the slaughter, dear Lord, I pray.  In Jesus’ saving name, Amen.  

Trusting,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 5

In Ps. 119:20, the psalmist declares, “My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.”  Oh, God, his desire to know more of You was so strong that it overcame him and ‘broke his soul’.  His desire for You exhausted and wore on him, zapping his strength in the best of ways.  God, that I would allow that type of desire to take hold in my own heart.  Oh, that my desire to know You would consume my thoughts as much as any unfulfilled desire ever could.

Lord, in Pr. 5, Solomon pleads again with his son to pay attention to his wisdom and his understanding.  He instructs his son not to be enraptured by an immoral woman.  He warns him of the dangers of being seduced by desire towards her.  Lord, Your Word tells us the same things.  We allow our desire for so many things to take our steps away from You, but all the while, we should be so consumed with a desire for You that nothing else will satisfy.  Forgive me, Lord, for placing my desire in other places.

Help me to hear Your Word as the instruction that will truly keep from reproach and contempt.  Help me not to depart from the Word of Your mouth that was given to keep me from being caught in the cords of sin, and quite literally from death.  Do not let me despise Your instruction, nor let me be consumed by anything other than my desire for more of You.  You alone are worthy of my life.  You alone are worthy of my desire, my longings, my devotion.

Oh, that Your Word would give me more delight than any other thing could even imagine to bring.  Awaken in me a new desire, Lord, for more of You.  Awaken a longing such as I have never had before.

Let my longing for You be passed to my children and my children’s children.  Let the generations to come long for You so strongly that it also breaks their souls.  Oh, that our longing would produce works that will glorify You and You alone.  You are worthy of all that and more, Lord, our Creator, our Savior, our Deliverer, and Strength.  Your power and might, Your faithfulness, Your peace…all these things and more make You more desirable than all else.  Keep that in our hearts and in our minds.  Help us to meditate on these things above all other things.  Move in us and use us for Your glory, Lord.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

How a 4-year-old fights temptation

Pr. 25:28:  “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

We’ve been learning this great verse about self-control in Sunday school this month.  Yesterday I heard the perfect example of what it means.

My friend’s 4-year-old son told her that the devil was trying to get him to break his bed.  He said, “I’m going to tell him to leave, and I’m going to read my Word of God!”

We all have different struggles and temptations.  For a teenager, it might be stealing.  For a married adult, it could be adultery.  For another, it could be hate and unforgiveness.  For a 4-year-old boy, it might be the temptation to break his bed.

We can learn a lot from this 4-year-old.  He had enough rule over his own spirit that he didn’t simply give in to his temptation.  As adults, our justifications and excuses sure make it seem complicated to resist our temptations; however, it couldn’t be more simple.

Note what he did:  He identified the desire as coming from the devil.  He told the devil to leave.  He read his Word of God!  Isn’t this what the Bible tells us to do?

Thank you for the lesson, Isaiah,

jamie

It’s not too late!

Pr. 30:32:  “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth.”

As we go into this new year, it’s a good time to reevaluate our plans and our thoughts.  This verse seems a good one to consider.

Perhaps we have begun to do what this verse says, exalting ourselves above those around us.  The more our eyes are on us and our own desires, the easier it can become easy to begin to think we are better, more esteemed, more dignified, or more valuable than others.  I’m sorry to be the bubble-burster, but not one of us is perfect.

Perhaps we have begun to devise evil.  Maybe plans are being made to advance ourselves at the expense of another.  Maybe arguments of justification for sin have laid themselves out clearly in our minds.  Rationalizations for giving into the flesh have been formulated and accepted.

Wait!  If you are reading this, it means that there is still time to stop!  Just because the thoughts have been carefully contemplated and considered does not mean it’s too late.

We still have time to put our hands on our mouths.  We still have time to stop the justifications, rationalizations, and self-exalting.  We still have time to get our eyes off of ourselves and back on our Savior.

Perhaps a few changes are necessary.  Maybe its simply time to get back into the Word.  It could be that some people or activities should be avoided.  Could it be time to lock ourselves away with God for a breakthrough?  I will remind you:  You are of God, and will overcome, because Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

When we are able to focus once again on the Lord, we become eternity-minded.  We no longer strive and plan to satisfy and glorify our flesh, but strive to bring glory and honor to God.  Now that’s a plan!

Re-evaluating,

jamie

Do others find favor from you?

Pr. 21:10:  “The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”

Several years ago our house was robbed.  If you’ve ever experienced that, you know how violating it is.  Our daughter was still young enough to be in a crib and my husband worked 2nd shift.  The first night after it happened, I was so afraid to leave my daughter alone in her room that I fell asleep on the floor in front of her crib until my husband came home from work.  I knew it wasn’t entirely rational, but it made me feel better at the moment.

The fingerprints and an eyewitness linked the robbery to one of our neighbors.  Our very own neighbor broke into our house and robbed us.  We were never very comfortable in that house again.  In fact, it wasn’t long before we sold it and moved.

There are times that the desire of sin and evil becomes so strong that no relationship is exempt.  Perhaps you’ve experienced a different scenario where a neighbor, friend, or even a family member desired evil so strongly that they wouldn’t even spare you.  Perhaps you’re the one who hurt those close to you.

Why does this happen?  Sin.  It causes our focus to become so narrow that we see only what we want and blinds us to others around us.  We go so strongly after our sinful desire that anyone in our path is at risk of being hurt.

We can’t control others, but we can make wise decisions about our own actions.  We can become so focused on God and His desires that sinful desires become less and less desirable.  We can become so focused on the work to which He has called us that we see others and their needs with very clear eyes.

God’s plans for us and for those around us are for good.  If we’re focused on Him and His ways, we won’t want to hurt others anymore.  Of course, we will still have temptations, battles, and trials, but He is willing and able to aid us through.

When we desire God, others will find favor in our eyes, and perhaps that will be all the encouragement they need follow suit.

His,

jamie

Scheduling love

Pr. 31:14:  “She is like the merchant ships, she brings food from afar.”

Recently, while I was preparing a meal plan for the week and the accompanying grocery list, my brother-in-law sarcastically asked, “I wonder where Kaili gets her planning skills?”  ha!

My daughter is the queen of planning.  Ever ready for adventure, she can instantly gather pen and paper and prepare a list of fun activities, things needed, or people to invite within moments of you mentioning any activity or the desire to have one.  It always amazes us and/or makes us giggle.

This morning, as I was reading through Proverbs 31, I was reminded what a great trait that actually is.  If she can plan like that in elementary school, by the time she has her own household, she will likely have her schedules running like clockwork.  I have every confidence that she will care for her household well.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be perfect planners to care for those around us.  We just have to pay attention to their needs and desires.  Simply planning to include others in our own personal schedules makes a huge difference in their lives.

More than ensuring every needed supply on hand and every thing is perfect, if we plan to include our family in our routine, they will know without a doubt that they are loved, appreciated, and cared for.  Sadly, those who are closest to us are often the ones who are pushed off the list first.

Today, let’s put our loved ones on our list in ink, planning to include one of their needs or desires in our day.  Talk about a good investment of our time!

Anticipating my day,

jamie